Der Spiegel: ‘Backdoor Openers’ are Paving the Way for NSA Surveillance



After years of speculation that electronics can be accessed by intelligence agencies through a back door, an internal National Security Agency (NSA) catalog reveals by the German magazine Der-Spiegel indicates that the NSA division called ANT has burrowed its way into nearly all the security architecture made by the major players in the industry.

“Through their back door entry ANT agents who are able to keep an eye on all levels of our digital lives” Der Spiegel comments, “from computing centers to individual computers, from laptops to mobile phones. For nearly every lock, ANT seems to have a key in its toolbox. And no matter what walls companies erect, the NSA’s specialists seem already to have gotten past them.”

The magazine gained access to a secret 50-page document prepared by ANT. “The list reads like a mail-order catalog, one from which other NSA employees can order technologies from the ANT division for tapping their targets’ data. The 208 dated catalog lists the prices for these electronic break-in tools, with costs ranging from free to $250,000.” Some of the equipment available is quite inexpensive. the magazine indicates. “A rigged monitor cable that allows “TAO personnel to see what is displayed on the targeted monitor,” for example, is available for just $30. But an “active GSM base station” — a tool that makes it possible to mimic a mobile phone tower and thus monitor cell phones — costs a full $40,000. Computer bugging devices disguised as normal USB plugs, capable of sending and receiving data via radio undetected, are available in packs of 50 for over $1 million.”

Der Spiegel mentioned a particular digital lock pick called “FEEDTROUGH” tailored to match the back door the NSA managed to gain on Juniper Networks systems. “This malware burrows into Juniper firewalls and makes it possible to smuggle other NSA programs into mainframe computers. Thanks to FEEDTROUGH, these implants can, by design, even survive ‘across reboots and software upgrades.’ the magazine disclosed. The catalog states that FEEDTROUGH “has been deployed on many target platforms.”